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Amendments to the Constitution

  • 13th Abolished Slavery 1865
  • 14th Grants citizenship 1868
  • 15th Grants formerly enslaved men the right to vote 1870


The Black Experience – Goals

  • Reunite families
  • Work – economic independence
  • Landownership
  • Education
  • Control over their own churches



  • Was not truly freedom
  • Difficult and uncertain
  • No money
  • Limited or no education
  • Confronted with racism



  • First goal was to reunite and stabilize families
    • Legalize marriages
    • Locate lost family members
  • Between 70 and 90 percent of black families were two-parent families in the postbellum period
  • Family stability was important and unattainable under enslavement



  • Working for whites resembled slavery
  • More Black women than white women worked outside of the home
    • Black male underemployment or unemployment forced black women into wage labor
    • Had to supplement male income
  • Worked in fields or as domestic servants
    • Urban – domestic work
    • Rural – farm / field work
  • Also took in washing, ironing and other services


Changes within the Plantation Home

  • Radical shift in power and gender relations
  • Negotiations regarding work
  • The ability to fire and to quit changed dynamic



  • Hope for the future was concentrated on children
  • Black mothers supported their children’s schooling
  • Northern teachers traveled to teach in the South
  • Black teachers



  • Under slavery, Black folks were forbidden to hold services without a white preacher present
  • New black churches became the center of the emerging black community
  • Worked to create some of the first black schools


Creating a New Identity

  • Female domesticity was ideal but not always attainable
  • White folks who worked with newly freed slaves promoted white ideals
  • Becoming a “true woman”


Negative Reaction

  • Rise of the KKK
  • Lynching
  • Terrorist tactics were used to restore white supremacy and to control black’s behavior
  • Black Codes
  • Jim Crow


Ida B. Wells

  • Journalist and Activist
  • Born into slavery to enslaved parents
  • Wrote about race and politics in the South
  • Led an anti-lynching crusade beginning in the 1890s
  • Founding member:
    • National Association of Colored Women (NACW)
    • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People


The Struggle Continues

  • Many of the problems dealt with during Reconstruction continued well into the 20th and 21st centuries



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History 111